Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Amazing Food Hacks by Peggy Wang

Have you ever looked at a bottle of sriracha hot sauce and thought "You know what would make that better? A spray bottle head!" How about dumping the crumbs from a party bag of Doritos into an empty pepper mill? Ever wanted to make a peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich but the only bread you had was a hot dog bun... and you went for it?

Maybe you haven't, but when the hungries happen and you're scrounging for something, necessity becomes the mother of invention. Of course these days re-purposing and finding new uses for things generally gets the term "hacked" in front of it, so why not food? Amazing Food Hacks is, perhaps, the ultimate afternoon snack-hacker's bible, complete with ideas that range from the mild (hash browns in a waffle iron) to the wacky (leftover pizza crust nachos) to the sophisticated (frozen yogurt dots). Peggy Wang, a founding editor of the website Buzzfeed and a non-foodie mom with kids to keep happy, packs a lot of interesting and (mostly) healthy ideas for breakfasts, main courses, snacks and sides that would make any kid rethink that plain old package of ramen taunting them from the pantry.  

The first thing you'll note about this book is that it's like an oversized child's board book, with thick, glossy coated pages. No need to worry about spilling food on it in the kitchen, it wipes (or, let's be honest, licks) clean. It's one of the few cookbooks I've seen designed to be abused in the kitchen.

Each page contains one or two "hacks" -- sometimes full recipes, sometimes hints or suggestions -- that will either instantly make sense or make your taste buds squinch in fear. One page, for example, suggests a thin layer of mayo can make a grilled cheese epic, which I agree with; above it on the same page is the suggestion of adding a spoonful of peanut butter to ramen broth, which leaves me a bit skeptical. For you it might be the opposite. But even the most outrageous of combinations didn't completely turn me off.

And there are truly useful kitchen hints included, like freezing tofu to give it better texture when cooking, or asking the guys delivering your pizza NOT to cut it into slices because that's how the crust gets soggy. These are scattered among recipes for things like "Better Than Crack Crackers" and "Calzone Tacos" and "Microwave Pasta Carbonara in a Mug." 

Chances are good a teen guy doesn't need a book like to tell him how to put together taco salad ingredients inside a bag of Fritos and eat them with a fork, but it could also seriously up his culinary game. And, yeah, much of this can be found online, but sometimes all a cook wants to do is grab a book, open to a page and go "Huh, I think I have all those ingredients..." Kitchens are just natural for this kind of hacking.

Amazing Food Hacks
by Peggy Wang
Clarkson Potter/Crown


tanita✿davis said...

Is it wrong that my instantaneous thought was, "Oh, that taco salad thing is GOING TO HAPPEN?"

Um... probably. *sigh*

Seth Christenfeld said...

If it were wrong, it wouldn't be in the book, would it?

david elzey said...

my sweetie says she can see the spray head on the sriracha -- better distribution over, say, scrambled eggs -- but i am forbidden from putting anything but pepper in the pepper grinder.

and tanita, as a supershortcut, i used to heat up canned chili and dump it on top cheese on top of fritos. who knew back before the PC that we were hacking?

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! I can think of plenty of readers---teens and adults alike---that will get a kick out of this!